Crucifixion by Martin Hengel

CrucifixionBibliography

Martin Hengel. Crucifixion. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977. 102 pp. $19.00.

Category

Exegesis

Summary

Martin Hengel will be one of the most celebrated New Testament scholars during the 21st — 22nd centuries. His scholarly contributions are multitudinous. Yet, Crucifixion is arguable the most widely read work of his, and possibly the most significant. This hundred pager is no light reading, but it is not unthinkable either.

In Crucifixion Hengel wades through what appears to be the entire extant corpus of extra-biblical literature that alludes to crucifixion. As he navigates this material, Hengel directs readers to critical observations about crucifixion. He conveys that crucifixion is a criminal’s death (4, 49-50), a cruel practice (13), a difficult message to preach (18), indignifying (24), the summum supplicium — supreme punishment (33), and servile supplicium — slaves punishment (51), among other observations.

Many might attempt to twist crucifixion into being a hero’s death, but no indication from Greek or Roman literature indicate that this is the case. Crucifixion drew, as Hengel argues, “deep aversion” (14). It was a barbaric way to put down hostility to hegemony and do away with the lowest of people: the slaves and the criminals.

So, when Paul claims that the crux is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Greek, he means exactly what he says. Here’s how Hengel concludes his thesis:

“All this leads to a final conclusion which it is difficult to resist. When Paul spoke in his mission preaching about the ‘crucified Christ’ (I Corinthians 1.23; 2.2; Galatians 3.1), every hearer in the Greek-speaking East between Jerusalem and Illyria (Romans 15.19) knew that this ‘Christ’ — for Paul the title was already a proper name — had suffered a particularly cruel and shameful death, which as a rule was reserved for hardened criminals, rebellious slaves and rebels agains the Roman state. That this crucified Jew, Jesus Christ, could truly be a divine being sent on earth, God’s Son, the Lord of all and the coming judge of the world, must inevitably have been thought by any educated man to be utter ‘madness’ and presumptuousness.” (83)

Of course, giving away the thesis doesn’t gain you any ground on enjoying and experiencing the whole process of watching Hengel’s masterly approach of bringing you to this conclusion. It is an effort of grace and finesse; Hengel proves himself to be an academic acrobat.

Benefit

I always understood the punishment of crucifixion to be a death penalty of severe suffering. The crucifix hanging from the front of the Roman Catholic church I worshipped in all through childhood left no room to suppress that impression. And if it had, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ brought the sensation to technicolor for me. Yet, Hengel struck a new nerve for me. He surfaced the emotional element of crucifixion.

Crucifixion was not just physical torture but it left a mark of shame and dishonor on all those who endured it. Just like when a family member brings shame upon the family, Christ’s crucifixion brings shame upon the entire family of Christ. What we call a badge of shame — with our merchandising of the cross — was more like a badge of shame for the early Christians. It’s easier to historically document a man hanging from a tree rather than document an empty tomb. And those who identified with that well documented cross and the Christ upon it, were looked upon more like Hester Prynne, with her scarlet letter. They were outcasts of society; they were dejected, downtrodden, and scorned. To identify with Christ is to identify with a criminal rebel and slave rather than a prince. If anything, Crucifixion helps Christ followers grip the humiliation of Christ all the more.

In addition, as I said above, Crucifixion is a display of impressive research. Martin Hengel effortlessly interacts with numerous Greek and Roman texts, displaying his authority and expertise in this field of study. Hengel encourages me to improve my studies and pick up more of the classics. Who knows what valuable observations and contributions might be pilfered from this literature, all for the sake of theological studies?

Rating

Essential    Recommended    Helpful    Pass It By

Recommendation

Crucifixion is a crucial classic for every Christ follower.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers

ValleyOfVision_pbk_frontIf you read my twitter feed, you’ll notice by now that I almost daily share a quote from The Valley of Vision. All these tweets are given the hashtag: #ValleyofVision.

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers arranged by Arthur Bennett. Many are written by Bennett himself. Others are adapted from Puritan writings.

This is my second time reading through The Valley of Vision. Honestly, I wish I would have started regularly reading through this prayer-book in seminary when Professor John Hannah shared with our historical theology class about this pocket-book of prayers. I’ve benefited so much theologically and spiritually in these two reads that I wonder what benefit I will have a decade from now. This prospect in itself is encouraging.

Don’t just take my word for the value of The Valley of Vision. Check out what Don Carson says about this book of prayer:

‘The prayers in The Valley of Vision are steeped in Scripture, yet never succumb to mere formula. They are theologically fresh and vibrant, yet they are rooted in confessionalism. They range over a huge sweep of Christian experience and devotion, but they are never merely esoteric or cute. They brim with deep emotion and transparent passion, but they carefully avoid mere sentimentalism. This is a book that teaches readers to pray by example.’ — D. A. Carson

I echo everything Carson says. Not only does this book brim with deep emotion and transparent passion along with robust confessional theology, but it will in turn move you in similar ways. I’ve found my own prayer life to be transformed because of the many truths I’ve embraced and learned from this book of prayer.

Just today I read this:

Help me, O Lord, to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee, for better, for worse, without comfort, and all but hopeless. Give me peace of soul, confidence, and enlargement of mind, morning joy that comes after night heaviness; water my soul richly with divine blessings; grant that I may welcome thy humbling in private so that I might enjoy thee in public; give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.

These words were heartwarming for me to read, hear, and repeat back to my savior.

The prayers in The Valley of Vision each have a candid balance between confessing sin and embracing expiation. The prayers resonate with thoughts of overwhelming unworthiness because of offenses against God that are turned to shouts of exultation in being made worthy through Christ our mediator and intercessor. This is welcomed, especially in a culture that is growing numb to guilt, disobedience, and sin. No one wants to be known as reprobate, carnal, or a sinner. Yet, apart from Christ, that is who we are.

For all those who believe on Christ, he mediates on our behalf and stands as our advocate. His constant communion with his Father intercedes on our behalf. His prayers make up for the difference of our weak prayers.

Thomas Watson reminds us in the Body of Divinity: “It is a great comfort to a believer, when his prayer is weak, and he can hardly pray for himself, that Christ’s prayer in heaven is might and powerful” (181).

If you’re at all interested in picking up a copy of The Valley of Vision, you can get it here at Banner of Truth’s website. I recommend the Leather-bound copy. That is the one I keep by my bedside. I also have the ebook, which is what I normally read from.

My pastor, Joe Thorn, has also created a helpful reading guide for The Valley of Vision. You can download it for free here at his blog.

You Are Worth More Than Your Social Stock Says You Are

Today you are going to log into some sort of social media — likely you’ll log into a number of accounts. Your eyes will gravitate to different functions of that media. You’ll check notifications. You’ll look at your feed. Inevitably, you’ll take stock of social capital. How many followers do you have today? How many friends? How many likes/favorites? You may even take a moment to check your Klout or find out what your SumAll score says about you.

Social media is a narcissists playground. And if anything is true about social media it is that it is the well-tilled soil to cultivate generations of narcissism. The invention of social media is not altogether different from the invention of the mirror. Both were intended to be utilitarian devices; both end up as tools of self-absorption.

Sadly enough, not unlike a mirror, social media can be manipulated. You can purchase a mirror that makes you look more slender than you really are, and you can build a social media profile that is far more impressive than who you are in person. The inverse is also true. When you stroll through a funny house, you will often see your reflection in mirrors that uglify or distort your true person. Likewise, we will often stroll through social media and see things that are not true of ourselves and, also, are not true of others.

The reality is you’re looking into the wrong mirror to measure your worth.

You see, both a looking glass and social media are not accurate representations of who you are. They are but “dim” representations (1 Cor. 13:12). There are many in the world who do not have the foggiest idea of who they really are. It’s because they are always looking into imperfect mirrors.

If you know Christ, and if his Word is in you, then you have hope. You have an idea of where your true net worth comes from; you have a real mirror to look into. God says his Word is a mirror (James 1:23). And reading 1 Corinthians 13:12 rightly should lead us to a forward looking understanding of what it means to be face to face with ourselves when we see the enduring love in which we abide. If we are united to Christ, new creations, and heirs of eternal life, then we don’t just look into the mirror of the Word that is law, but we look into the mirror of the Word which is gospel. We see Christ face to face; we see love; we see grace; we see forgiveness.

Sure enough, social media can and will tell you something about yourself. But it is truly a one-dimensional impression, just like a mirror. It’s a flat picture of who you are. It’s a virtual image. Your social media worth is not your true net worth. It’s also not where your true worth should be found.

It’s true that as time has passed, the line has blurred between virtual avatars and the true image and likeness we bear. What happens in the virtual ether transfers into real life and vice versa. But whether it be in the real life looking into a mirror or the virtual life looking into a social media mirror, you have to remind yourself that your truest self — the most accurate picture of yourself — is not one that can be manipulated, uglified, or distorted. Your true self is rooted, beautified, and clarified by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just remember this, when you encounter God face to face, he’s not going to see notifications, favorites, likes, and retweets. He’s going to see Jesus. Jesus stood in your place at the cross. And the cross is the only event truly worth notifying others of, favoriting, liking, and retweeting. It’s the only noteworthy news because it is the only truly good news.

Is that convincing to you? Convincing enough to diminish the worth of your social capital so that the worth of Christ may be elevated in your eyes?

Anything that takes the place of God becomes an idol. And anything that is elevated above God becomes an idol. It’s all too easy to turn social capital into an idol. It’s easy to look onto a profile and determine a person’s worth by what they’ve said, quoted, gif’d, instagrammed, and who follows them or who they follow. What’s worse, you don’t just diminish your own worth, but you slay other people’s worth by letting something so artificial become so pivotal.

Friend, you are worth far more than your social stock says you are.

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper

SupremacyofGodinPreachingBibliography

John Piper. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015. 176 pp. $15.99.

Category

Preaching

Summary

Being in its third edition, The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper demonstrates that it is an essential classic for each preaching pastor. This book, not being a preaching manual, is a book that shapes the philosophy of a preaching ministry. What is preaching all about? Is it about giving people a few tools to add to their tool box so they can more effectively live tomorrow? Is it about helping people be the best person they can be? Really, who is the audience of our preaching?

Piper causes us to step back and rethink that question of audience. Who is preaching for? Yes, it’s for God’s people, but first it is about God’s glory. Thus, the first audience, the front and center spectator is God, and so preaching set forward the aim to please him first, by making him supreme in all the preacher says.

This is how Piper sets forward this thesis:

“God is the goal of preaching, God is the ground of preaching, and all the means in between are given by the Spirit of God.

My burden in these pages is to plead for the supremacy of God in preaching — that the dominant note of preaching be the freedom of God’s sovereign grace, that the unifying theme be the zeal that God has for his own glory, that the grand object of preaching be the infinite and inexhaustible being of God, and that the pervasive atmosphere of preaching be the holiness of God.”

The Supremacy of God in Preaching has two parts. Part one look at preaching philosophically. Chapter one covers the goal of preaching: the glory of God. Chapter two encompasses the ground of preaching: the cross of Christ. Chapter three looks at the gift of preaching: the power of the Holy Spirit. And Chapter four examines the gravity and gladness of preaching.

The second part should come as little surprise to those who love John Piper and his work. In this part Piper uses the ministry of Jonathan Edwards as a plumb line for preaching. Piper conveys the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards, emphasizing the pervasive theme of the beauty of God and the glory of God as the unifying theme behind all that Edwards did — this especially pertains to Edwards preaching ministry.

Benefit

It’s certainly true that preachers will benefit most from reading The Supremacy of God in preaching. Likely chapter four on the gravity and gladness of preaching will strike many preachers between the eyes. It did for me. This chapter affirmed what I encountered with Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s, Preaching and Preachers, and Charles Spurgeon’s, Lectures to My Students. It corroborated the methods I questioned for some time — the methods I’m all too prone to succumb to myself as a preacher because these are the methods I sat under for so long.

These days, preaching has become half-entertaining, comedy routine and half-heartwarming stories about kittens and butterflies. Unfortunately, the parts people recall are what might have been lifted from a Brian Reagan bit or from a YouTube video. There is a real lack of what Piper calls blood-earnestness in preaching, an authority that causes listeners to consider the gravity of sin and death and the gladness of Christ and salvation. Sure enough, you might push back on my comment and say, “Well, a preacher has to keep the attention of listeners.” I completely agree; And I earnestly contend that nothing will grab people’s attention like straightforward exposition that reaches into the soul and convicts it concerning the law of God and the gospel of God.

Piper argues: “Most people today have so little experience of deep, earnest, reverent, powerful encounters with God in preaching that the only associations that come to mind when the notion is mentioned are that the preacher is morose or boring or dismal or sullen or gloomy or surly or unfriendly.” The American church has been inoculated from blood-earnestness for so long that it is like a famished child taken into a candy store, she doesn’t know that what she is about to gorge on might just kill her, and she doesn’t want the chicken broth that will certainly nurse her back to health.

Most church’s congregants are panting and drinking from dripping faucets because preachers are too insecure to tap into the full reservoir of God’s Word. They dress up a sermon manuscript with multimedia presentations, object lessons, videos, and narcissistic tales much like a funeral home does to a corpse. Unfortunately, this creates church’s that are nothing more than funeral homes, filled with walking corpses of the unconverted. Now, I’m not saying that multimedia presentations, object lessons, videos, and storytelling may not be effectively used as it is paired with blood-earnest, expository preaching. But you can’t substitute one for the other. And if you must forsake one, I’d say forsake the former.

This is what ultimately makes The Supremacy of God in Preaching for every reader — not just the preaching pastor of a church. Gospel-Centered reader, this is the kind of preaching you should expect in the church you attend. This is the plumb line for the preaching you want to be under. This is where to go to test and discern. Compare Piper’s philosophy and Edward’s example to your present experience. Be gracious but be honest. How do they match up. If you were to sit down with your pastor, would he self-identify as one who preaches with expository-exultation in God? I encourage you to be charitable, and I encourage you to be sober-minded.

You’ll want to read this book for yourself, hand a copy of it to your pastor, and tell others about it as well. It’s not a super long read, but it is a superb one.

Rating

Essential    Recommended    Helpful    Pass It By

Recommendation

The Supremacy of God in Preaching will cause you to reflect long on how God would like his Word preached, and you will long to see it done so.

The Bridegroom Loves to Hear His Bride Sing

It was late on a Thursday night. Our family had just piled into the minivan and started the trek home from Community Group. That night we enjoyed a rousing discussion on Antichrists as we studied 1 John 2:18; our community group studies follow the sermon series on Sundays. Those kind of discussions usually get passionate, not in the sense that we disagree, or anything like that, but in the sense that we all get really worked up on loving Christ purely — by purely I mean having affections for sound doctrine.

As we were driving home a worship song my wife loves started playing. The kids were already nodding off in the back of the van, and the lull of her voice only amplified the effect of the late hour for them. I was off in my world, reflecting on the discussion I facilitated, processing what might have been done different.

But then I started to listen to my wife’s voice. I’ve always enjoyed her voice. Without realizing it, I started to feel a gush of emotion well up in me, like the slow gush of water that comes from a spring. It wasn’t a weepy emotion like one get’s when they’ve lost a loved one. And it wasn’t like the butterflies you get when you just start dating, and you think to yourself, “I might marry this one.” It was me being swept up into the holiness of God. The feeling came slow, but it was strong; it was the feeling of pure delight in hearing God exalting worship, self-effacing pouring out of one’s soul. I sat quietly listening to my bride sing, knowing that it was not a song sung to me but to God. Yet, it brought me such great joy.

Then a thought occurred to me: the bridegroom loves to hear his bride sing. I’m not talking about me hearing Kendall sing next to me in the car. I’m talking about Christ hearing his Church adore him. Now, if you’re someone who doesn’t like to sing or doesn’t feel like they are good at singing, then, get this, the bridegroom always loves to hear his bride sing. It doesn’t matter if you’re in key or off-key, a bass or a tenor, someone who can sing a third part harmony, or someone who’s always in falsetto — you know who you are — regardless, the bridegroom loves to hear his bride sing.

This thought never struck me so vividly as it did in the van on that ride home. But that’s what happens when we stop talking, stop singing, and start listening for a moment. Sometimes it is just as worshipful to listen to worship as it is to participate in worship. Sometimes that’s when we experience a deeper sense of worship, a worship that peels back the facade of performance and distraction, and is just raw worship. Maybe that’s why when I was younger I enjoyed the rawness of the Enter the Worship Circle albums from 100 Portraits and Waterdeep or the albums from Shane and Shane. They taught me to start listening. They taught me to stop caring about presentation and performance. They taught me simplicity.

This is probably why I find myself these days more drawn to listening to Bob Kauflin, Mark Altrogge, the Gettys, Dustin Kensrue, Matt Boswell, Stephen Miller, or Michael Bleeker. They are examples of worship leaders that demonstrate self-effacing, humble, and sincere worship. Furthermore, they are examples of worship that brim with sound doctrinal, God exalting, heart affecting lyrics that produce that same gushing feeling in my soul that thirsts for God’s holiness.

When has this sensation been produced in you? Who are some of your favorite worship leaders of yesterday and today? Do you allocate time for worship outside of Sunday morning? Sometimes I do, but too often, I do not. I remember being in high school or college and having impromptu worship sessions with my friends. I miss those days. I long for them again. It makes me want to dust off my Larrivee, rebuild my calluses, and gather my family in the living room for worship. I think I will.

Book Notice: What I Wish I’d Known from Lexham Press

free-bookLexham Press, the publication wing of Faith Life, makers of Logos, has released a free e-book accessible through their Vyrso software: What I Wish I’d Known. This book is a collection of contributions from women who attended a summit that the organization hosted last year. The contributions are women’s ministry insights from these women’s ministry leaders years of ministry. You know what they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” If you’re a woman serving in women’s ministry, you might find these articles to be a welcomed foresight of what might be or what might be averted.

Though I may not share the same theological viewpoints as all of these contributors, I’m sure there is much to glean from this new resource. Some of the contributors that I especially value from this source include: Elyse Fitzpatrick, Jessica Thompson, Darlene Schacht, Amanda Williams, Hilary Tompkins and Courtney Joseph.

Here’s an excerpt from Rebecca Brant’s foreword:

When God calls, we may not feel prepared to answer. We might believe we don’t have enough Bible knowledge, or we’re terrified of public speaking. Maybe we’re weary and broken, and we think we’re not worthy to serve. Maybe all of that’s true—but none of it matters. If God calls us, he sees the faith and maturity required for leadership. And he will equip us for the work he has in mind.

As we seek his guidance and his will, we should remember to seek godly counsel as well. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this anthology—advice and reflections from 26 Christian women leaders on the theme What I Wish I’d Known in the early years of ministry work.

The writings in this collection vary from checklists to testimonies to mission statements, and more. Some read as if you have been invited for afternoon tea. Others are more like a personal pep rally. Still others are as brief and uplifting as a postcard from a good friend.

We trust each woman’s words will encourage you as you pursue God’s plan. And if you feel encouraged to share what you wish you had known when you heard God’s call, we would love to hear from you. Submit your own story to submit@faithlifewomen.com.

Visit here to learn more and download the book.

Paul Washer on The Believer’s New Relationship with Sin

GospelAssuranceandWarningsI’ve finally had time to sit down with Paul Washer’s third volume on Recovering the Gospel, Gospel Assurance and Warnings from Reformation Heritage Books. I reviewed the first volume here at jtochran.com, and I reviewed the second volume here at The Gospel Coalition. I hope to review this third volume for one of the sites that I like to contribute reviews too.

In Washer’s fourth chapter on confessing sin, he discusses the believers new relationship with sin. If you’re like me and you have an ongoing battle with indwelling sin, you will find this section deeply comforting.

Here’s what he says:

“We know that we have come to know Him not because we are without sin but because our attitude toward sin has been radically altered: we have a growing hatred for it, are broken over it, and confess it” (30).

This is the premise of one sign of assurance — that our relationship with sin is different. What we once loved is now despised.

“The validity of his claim to a new relationship with God can be affirmed only to the degree that his relationship with sin has changed” (30).

“In the titanic work of conversion, God recreates the heart after His likeness in true righteousness and holiness. This radically altered heart has new and radically altered affections. Its love for self has been replaced by a love for God, and its thirsting for iniquity has been replaced by a hungering and thirsting for righteousness. To put it simply, the Christian now loves the God he once hated and hates the self he once loved; he now desires the righteousness he once spurned and despises the unrighteousness of which he once boasted” (31).

Because we are prone to despair over sin, these words are deeply comforting. We become convinced that sin’s presence indicates a lack of God’s presence. In reality, that the presence of sin bothers us at all is an indication of God’s presence. We are no longer blind to sin; we are no longer numb to its piercing pain. The cause of assurance is not that there is no sin but that there is a real struggle with it. A real struggle indicates the real presence of God in us.

“Although we must never diminish the believer’s great and ongoing struggle with sin, we must not explain away or diminish the power of regeneration” (31).

“Even though the believer will battle with sin and at times suffer loss, both his heart and affections have been transformed. His sin is no longer a cause for delight and boasting but of mourning and confession. In fact, this mourning that leads to confession is one of the greatest evidences of his conversion” (31).

If you feel the pain of guilt over sin, you have cause of assurance. If you feel real grief over sin in you and around you, you have cause for assurance. If you see God as just, and you long to see equity in dealing with sin, you have cause for assurance. If sin is ugly and Christ is beautiful, you have cause for assurance.

This is comforting news for all those who struggle with sin. And for those who do not struggle with sin, well, this news should startle them into concern over their soul.

Announcing Gospel-Centered Library and Changes to jtcochran.com

I cherish the gospel and wish to shine forth the light of the gospel in whatever means possible. Likewise, I love good books, especially books that awaken the heart to the gospel. So it is only natural for me to bring those two affections together to produce a resource that is fruitful for the sake of gospel-centeredness — introducing the Gospel-Centered Library. The Gospel-Centered Library will be the new home for my book reviewing. I’ll still contribute reviews to other sites, but my primary locus for reviewing will now be at the Gospel-Centered Library page of jtcochran.com. There you will already find my archive of reviews that I’ve written over the past few years.

While I’m making this change, you’ll also notice some not-so-subtle changes to jtcochran.com. It seems this sites gone green. Over the next few days you’ll see that trend integrate across Twitter and elsewhere.

Thanks so much for reading and be sure to tell your friends about this reliable place to find solidly written and engaging reviews on gospel-centered books.

Look for my next review coming soon on the Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper.

014: Cochrans4Chicago Newsletter Update

1 John 2:2 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Dear Friends,

Recently my pastor, Joe Thorn, preached on the above verse. What he said resonated with my soul, encouraging and affirming the direction in which the Lord is directing our steps as we begin the planning stages of a church plant in Libertyville.

Church planting is a demanding task, one that causes men to forsake many of the things of this world: desires, comforts, interests. This is something that the entire Cochran family has slowly learned over the past couple years. For Kendall and I, it was definitive when we looked around in our empty Tulsa home in 2013 and realized that we were letting go of much for the sake of making much of Christ in Chicagoland. For the children, it was smaller things. Chloe saying goodbye to her friend Cammie. Asher feeling the pain of his Black and Decker tool work station not surviving the move, damaged in our POD. For Adalie, it involves nap times cut short from noisy siblings who share one bedroom with her.

Still, we all look at these things as having a specific purpose. They are but trifle sacrifices for what we see the Lord stirring in our own hearts and others. How is the Lord stirring within you to forsake the world and things in the world for his good and glory?

We will be relocating to the Libertyville area in mid-June. This Wednesday we are looking at a rental property that is currently being rented by a PhD graduate who studied under Doug Sweeney, my doctoral advisor, at TEDS. This graduate started working at Crossway as an editor this last fall, and he and his family are relocating to Wheaton in May. The Lord providentially brought the two of us together when I met with Dane Ortlund in Crossway’s offices, who thought it might be opportune for us to connect, since we both love editing and church history, sharing the same doctoral advisor. It’s very exciting to see how God is working!

Relocation is always bittersweet. We’ll miss our friends at Redeemer Fellowship, Starbucks, Chickfila, our apartment complex, and in the community we live. As we’ve shared what the Lord is doing, many have indicated a desire to come up and visit the church plant, which is always encouraging. We’ve had so many gospel conversations as a result of these friendships, and we know that the Lord is planting seeds for his glory in all these conversations.

MINISTRY UPDATE

Pray that the Lord would continue to train and equip our family for gospel ministry as we make the next steps to planting in Libertyville.

Two weeks ago I met with the elders of Embassy Church in Arlington Heights and shared the seedling vision and first draft of a prospectus for the Libertyville church plant. This presentation was met with an encouraging response. Since then, our family has had dinner in the home of one of Embassy Church’s elders and another attended the first information meeting we had for the Libertyville church plant. Even now I am praying for continued favor.

This past Friday evening I held my first information meeting for the Libertyville church plant. There was a handful of men gathered to read Scripture, pray, and listen. During that time I shared our story and calling to Libertyville, a draft of the proposed vision of this church plant, and my timeline. There was hearty discussion as we all enjoyed dessert together. I’m very thankful for the Farish family, who opened their home to our family for dinner and generously hosted the information meeting.

Then on this past Sunday, the Sunday following the information meeting, I had the opportunity to preach for my friend, Steve McCoy, at the church he leads, Doxa Fellowship. I preached about the eternal God from Psalm 90. It was a sweet time of fellowship as it always is with this church family. God has blessed me with the opportunity to preach for them five times now since we moved up here.

On Monday April 20th, I will attend a banquet for NAMB missionaries where there will be a number of churches from outside the Chicago area that are looking to partner with new church plants. I’m looking forward to this time where I will have the opportunity to share with others about what the Lord is stirring in our hearts. Please pray that the Lord will give us favor and we will connect with other churches that wish to partner in this new work.

Hopefully, during the next two months we confirm having a sending church and go through a favorable assessment with the North American Mission Board. Then we can really accelerate the church planting work the Lord is leading us too and put our hand to the plow without looking back.

WORK UPDATE

Praise God for his provision of MORE part-time employment.

Kendall and I have already arranged to transfer our part-time work to the Libertyville area for when we move there in June. I’m also looking for freelance marketing, content strategy, social media, and editorial work to replace my hours at Starbucks. The Lord has already shown his favor here; I’m delighted to share that I am now a freelance proof editor for Crossway. We hope that the Lord will open up a way for more of this kind of work as we continue to have information meetings and prepare for assessment with the North American Mission Board. Once assessment is complete and we have a confirmed sending church, I will be able to focus most of my attention towards the church plant.

We’re really thankful that the Lord has provided these means to provide for our family. Nonetheless, our sincere desire is to focus more towards church planting. We’ve found that this is difficult to do when we are working as much as we are. It leaves little time left for us to focus on people, prayer, and planning for this church plant.

PARTNERING UPDATE

Pray that the Lord will provide partners with both churches and individuals, so we may continue forward with Church Planting. Please share with others about this work too! We’d love to have more people praying for us!

Our ernest desire is to focus on church planting. If the Lord is stirring you to partner with us and unleash us for church planting work, you may do so through the North American Mission Board.

All funding may be securely given through the North American Mission Board. Gifts may be given through Electronic Funds Transfer, or AutoPay with your Debit or Credit Card. To set up automatic giving on-line go to our NAMB Webpage, http://msc.kintera.org/cochranfamily2005.

If you wish to mail in an Electronic Funds Transfer request, you may do so. Fill out the form below and mail it to the address for NAMB below. When you fill out the form indicate my name JOEY COCHRAN and Account 10138 on the form.

EFT Request Form.

Here is a helpful document about giving online with the North American Mission Board.

Q&A Sheet for Partnering with NAMB Missionaries.

If you wish to send a monthly check, you may still do so. Please be sure to memo JOEY COCHRAN ACCT 10138 on your check.

Mail your check to:

NAMB

Attention: Accounting – MSC                       

PO Box 116543

Atlanta, Georgia 30368-6543

Sincerely,

The Cochran Family

cochranfamily2005@gmail.com

Experiencing the Trinity by Joe Thorn

Experiencing the TrinityThis review first appeared at Lifeway’s Pastors Today web blog.

Bibliography

Joe Thorn. Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. 144 pp. $10.99.

Category

Spiritual Growth

Summary

“No book written by man has so warmed my heart during the last decade as has this one,” is what I said in reference to the last book I read by Joe Thorn, Note to Self. A few years have passed, and I stand by that word.

You see, Note to Self played a seminal role in me seeking Pastor Joe Thorn as a mentor and coach. I’m proud to call him my pastor and friend, and am thankful for the time he has poured into my life.

When Joe shared with me that he was working on a second book, Experiencing the Trinity, I eagerly prayed for him as he wrote and looked earnestly towards the day that I might read this new work.

Experiencing the Trinity is a devotional and experiential meditation on the many attributes of the triune God. Thorn looks at each person of the Trinity in turn: fifteen devotions on the Father, twenty on the Son, and fifteen on the Spirit. Each of these sermonettes to the self draw out shortcomings — how we forget, are tempted, self-deceived, or misunderstand these attributes of God. Then, with the same gentleness and  conviction, truths are affirmed and reinforced in our lives.

Thorn shares in the introduction how many of Experiencing the Trinity’s devotions were written during and in the aftermath of an extremely anxious time for pastor Joe. It was a time where Joe sought counsel from Pastor and Professor David Murray, who recently wrote The Happy Christian. It was a time where Joe enlisted professional medical help as well — a decision difficult for him because of prior convictions about medication. But ultimately, though many factors played a role in his recovery, this is what Thorn says took preeminent place:

“And central to it all was the Word of God. It was Scripture that drew me back to the hope, peace, and safety I have in Jesus. And this is what this book is really about: how the Word of God draws us to the living God. I knowing him we find peace, joy, strength, and faith.” (17)

So each devotion begins with a Scripture, which is then applied to the heart, moving the reader along in God-exulting worship and praise.

Benefit for Pastoral Ministry

Before readers depart from the introduction, Pastor Joe gives a solemn reminder. He wrote these devotions as a Christian and only a Christian may rightfully appropriate these truths and pray them with confidence. Yet, he couches this qualification with a valuable statement that opens the door to the curious and seeker: “If you have not yet believed in Jesus Christ as the only hope of being reconciled to God, I encourage you to read the following pages as the promises God make to those who believe” (19).

Likewise, if you think that devotionals like this one are only for the truly pious, or books like this sit on a pastors shelf and are not rightly fit for the average person, you would be tragically mistaken. If anything, Thorn communicates the exact opposite. Every person needs the truths from Experiencing the Trinity. We’re all weak, vulnerable to sin, and prone to revert to old ways. Thorn articulates this in various manners throughout Experiencing the Trinity. In his chapter on God the Father’s forgiveness, he gently reminds us:

“It’s good that your sins bother you. They should. They are an offense and affront to God. But your tendency to lose hope in light of them is not of faith, because faith believes and receives the pardon of God. He forgives his people.” (45)

What a comforting reminder to your soul!

Had I mentioned how concise each of these devotions are? Some are two others are three pages in length. Yet, this doesn’t mean that one will spend a mere minute or two on these devotions. I found myself resting in the truths found within and marinading my heart in them for much longer. I recall Thorn’s chapter on the Holy Spirit being grieved. He compares the soul to a garden. He says, “Your soul is designed to be a garden of sorts, one that bears fruit for him who tends it” (136). Thorn exhorts to cultivate godliness, resist the weeds of unrepentant sin, uproot them through confession, and water your soul

I recommend Experiencing the Trinity with the same zeal I once recommended Note to Self. Purchase this book. Read it. Re-read it.

Rating

Essential Recommended Helpful Pass It By

Recommendation

Experiencing the Trinity is a grace infused prayer book that reflects on the beauty and wonder of our Triune God.